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King of Blades – Chapter 8 “Royal Guests”

List of chapters, if you need to catch up.

 

The next two weeks passed in relative calm, until the day that Shelton arrived at Coulta’s office and demanded to speak to him and Wildas. They had to wait for Wildas to finish hearing petitions, and in the meantime Shelton refused to discus anything with Coulta. Finally, Wildas arrived, looking worried.

“Rohan said you needed me,” he said to Shelton.

“I just spoke with a sorcerer by the name of Braith,” Shelton began, turning a violet stone over in his hands – one of the communication crystals Coulta sent with his spies when they went on missions. “He’s the personal Guardian to Prince Jaimathan.”

“The Algoman heir?” Wildas questioned.

“Yes,” Shelton went on. “Braith informed me that Algoma was attacked two weeks ago by Dyrai. The king, queen, and princess are in hiding, but Braith contacted me to ask for sanctuary for the prince, his wife and child, and the sorcerer himself. They’ll be here in a few days.”

“It takes two months to get to the Algoman capital from here,” Wildas pointed out.

“They have some sort of magical transportation. Will you give them sanctuary?” the sorcerer asked, gazing intently at the Grand King.

Wildas nodded. “Of course.”

Shelton smiled grimly. “I will let Braith know.”

“Are we going to give aid to Algoma?” Coulta questioned. “We built our army expecting to be attacked, and Algoma is our ally.”

Wildas sighed. “We may try. I want to talk to the prince first. It’s likely that his mother gave him instructions, either to ask for help or just to wait the situation out. If we can help, we will. Though, we may be Dyrai’s next target, especially if we have the Algoman prince here.” He sighed again, and Coulta could see the stress building on him again. “We need to wait to talk things over with him.”

Shelton nodded in agreement. “As soon as our guests arrive, will can decide the next course of action.”

_____

The day that the Algomans were due to arrive, Coulta sat in the throne room with his spouses, flanked by the Royal Guard and the kings’ advisers. All four of the members of the royal family were wearing their crowns, which Coulta felt was a bit too formal, but it was apparently a requirement for sitting in the throne room on the elegant, intricately decorated thrones.

When the Algomans arrived, Coulta was startled to see a large dapple gray horse bringing up the rear of the party, and even when he realized it wasn’t a horse but a unicorn, he was still puzzled. He hadn’t even known unicorns were actual creatures, not just stories. Clearly this was the magical transportation Shelton had mentioned.

The humans were travel-worn, covered in dirt and with uncombed hair. The prince and his wife didn’t look like royalty, especially compared to the Phelin rulers in the room. Their clothes were plain under the dirt from the road, and they wore no symbols of rank. In Phelin, all members of the royal family wore colored cords across their bodies, even if they were only distantly related to the rulers. The only noble thing about the prince was the sword at his hip. Though the sheath was fairly simple, Coulta could see the gleaming gold of the hilt and the blue topaz set in it. The princess was carrying a sleeping child no older than a year in age.

Braith, the sorcerer that Shelton had been in contact with, was wearing a uniform consisting of a red shirt, pants, and cloak, all edged in black. On his breast was sewn a sword balanced on its tip above a single flame, a crown sitting on the sword’s hilt. It must have been the symbol of the Guardians of the royal family. The most startling thing about the sorcerer could be seen as the group approached the dais where Coulta and his family sat; the man had red eyes.

Since Coulta had some magical abilities, he’d been meeting with Shelton and the other mages periodically to see what they planned to do if Dyrai attacked. Coulta had noticed another sorcerer who had partially red eyes, and had asked Shelton how it was possible.

“There’s more than one type of magic,” Shelton had explained. “Your magic is very different from mine, and the Reds are very different from both of us. They aren’t born with the ability to use magic, it develops when they begin to physically become adults. As their powers grow, their eyes become more red, starting at the center and moving out. The more red the eyes of a Red sorcerer, the more power he can wield. Reds aren’t very common in Phelin, and no one knows why. Most Reds come from Algoma, where they are more common. In Algoma they call sorcerers such as myself Colored Flames, because we have very specific colors tied to our powers. Obviously, I’m a violet Flame. Here, where it is the most common type of magic, we don’t bother calling ourselves that, just like Reds don’t call themselves Reds.”

“What am I?” Coulta had asked, thinking of how his magic was both black and silver.

Shelton had shrugged. “You are an Arcane. Your powers work in ways that ancient powers used to work – effortlessly and without detailed spells. The rest of us all need spells or words of power. You only need to think of what you wish to do, and you can do it.”

Coulta’s thoughts were disrupted by the Algoman prince’s accented words, “I am Crown Prince Jaimathan of Algoma, and I ask for sanctuary for myself, my wife and child, and our Guardian. I ask this because our nations are allies, and my home has been overrun by invaders from Dyrai.” His hands were clasped before him and his head was bowed, the proper showing of respect for someone who only slightly outranked him, regardless of whose lands they were in. Behind him, his wife was still holding their child, but her head was bowed. The sorcerer was kneeling on one knee, head bowed and arms to his side. The unicorn held his head high in defiance of any human authority.

They all knew Wildas was going to welcome the Algomans, but the formality was required. Coulta was hardly surprised, however, when Wildas stood, set his crown down on the red cushion of his throne, and stepped down to the visitors. “If we’re going to save both of our countries, we must end the formality,” he declared, making the prince look up. “You, your family, and your Guardian are welcome here for as long as you need to be here.”

Jaimathan smiled. “I thank you.”

Coulta removed his crown and stepped down from the dais as well, followed by both queens. Up close, Coulta could see through the dirt of travel on their guests’ faces and realized that all three adults were approximately the same age he and his spouses were; mid-twenties. There was a round of introductions, and Myri asked their guests if they were well after their journey.

“Klent has a slight cough,” Princess Fae answered, cradling the child.

“I’m a healer,” Myri explained. “I can check on him once you’ve settled in, if you like.”

Fae smiled. “That would be wonderful.”

“We prepared two guest rooms for you, in the wing reserved for royal visitors,” Wildas told them. “The wardrobes should be full. I’ll have someone show you the way, and get baths ready for you. I will hold a meeting tonight with my advisers, so you can tell us what happened and we can decide what course of action to take.”

The prince looked suddenly sad. “My mother doesn’t wish for Phelin to rush to her aid. From what we gathered from spies, Reesh is using his attack on Algoma to draw your forces from Phelin. He likely has spies here, who will know as soon as you send forces to Algoma. They will pull out of Algoma and swarm Phelin before your forces can return.”

Wildas glanced at Coulta, who was baffled. “None of my people even mentioned hearing that Algoma was going to be invaded.” He was going to have to make sure none of them had been found out, as soon as he could.

Wildas sighed. “We’ll talk more this evening.”

Jaimathan nodded. “Thank you, again, for your kindness.”

The Grand King motioned to the unicorn, which Myri had been staring at for a while. “Where will… your companion stay?”

The prince glanced at the creature, and shrugged. “Alidex? He usually goes wherever he wishes. If there is a specific place you’d like him to stay away from, I will request that he does so. But it’s not as though I truly have control over him. He only stays with me because I saved him when he was a colt.”

“He can go where he wants,” Wildas replied, “as long as the door is open, and he doesn’t make a mess.”

At that, Alidex swung his great head over Jaimathan’s shoulder and looked Wildas square in the eye. “Jai,” the unicorn spoke in a strangely beautiful male voice, “tell His Royal High-ass that I will gladly stay out of rooms with closed doors, but if he insults my hygiene once more I shall find his bedchamber and shit in his bed.”

Everyone in the room fell into silent shock, even the guards having hushed conversations behind them. Jaimathan and Fae both had horrified expressions on their dirty faces, and Braith was staring at the unicorn as if it were about to commit murder and he’d have to stop it with magic.

But Wildas chuckled. “I’m very sorry, Alidex,” he said, bowing his head. “I didn’t mean to offend. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting a noble creature like yourself.”

Coulta wasn’t sure “pleasure” was the right word. This was not a beast to be on the wrong side of.

Alidex just snorted and backed away.

Jaimathan grimaced. “I’m sorry for that. I should have mentioned that he offends easily.”

That got another snort.

“I will just have to be sure not to offend him again,” Wildas said with a smile.

Shelton approached them then and nodded respectfully to the guests. “I can show you to your rooms, if you wish,” he offered.

As soon as the guests were gone, Myri scowled at Wildas. “Don’t you offend that unicorn again. Not when all of us are sharing your bed until this whole war is over with.”

“If only Alidex was my only worry,” Wildas replied with a sigh.

 

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February 16, 2012 - Posted by | King of Blades

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